Annex F – Key findings of Carer Support Payment public consultation
Carer Support Payment from Launch
The consultation paper outlined a number of proposals in relation to Carer Support Payment (which had a working title of 'Carer Support Payment' at the time of the consultation) and a majority of respondents agreed with each of these.
- When considering how Carer Support Payment services could be designed to suit carers' needs, respondents focused on a need for a choice of communication methods, straightforward processes and types of support needed by carers as well as concerns over the rules about the current Carer's Allowance (Q1).
- Respondents cited a wide range of organisations and forms of support that Carer Support Payment could link to. A key form of support was carers' centres that can provide information and local help in accessing and completing paperwork as well as performing an advocacy role (Q2).
- A majority of respondents (68%) agreed with the proposed residency criteria for Carer Support Payment. A large minority agreed that carers should need to live in Scotland or that residency should be the main consideration. Furthermore, a significant minority felt it is not possible to care for someone living outside the carer's area or a long way outside Scotland. However, there were some calls for flexibility in the arrangements, for example, when a carer close to the Scottish border provides care for a Scottish resident. Views on the 'past presence test' were mixed (Qs3-5).
- Almost three quarters of respondents agreed with the proposed re-determination timescale's for Carer Support Payment. These were noted as being fair and reasonable, allowing more time to collate information and pull a case together and to obtain support and advice. There were some comments that Social Security Scotland should not need a longer period to make a decision than carers have to request a re-determination. A small minority of respondents felt the proposed timescale's were too long (Qs 6-7).
- 64% of respondents agreed with the proposals on when payments of Carer Support Payment should be suspended, with comments that the reasons given for suspension were appropriate with suspension only taking place in severe or serious circumstances. Many comments focused on the negative financial impact that stopping qualifying disability benefits can have on a carer. A large minority of respondents felt Carer Support Payment should continue until a person's situation is resolved, particularly as the carer will still be required to provide care (Qs 8-10).
- 67% of respondents agreed with the proposals for when an award of Carer Support Payment should be set to £0. The key reasons were that this offers a more flexible approach or it will be easier as carers will not have to reapply for their benefit (Qs 11-12).
- A large majority (85%) of respondents agreed with the proposal to pay Carer Support Payment to carers when the person they are caring for is receiving short-term assistance. The key reason for this was that the carer will still have caring responsibilities and should not be penalised financially during this process (Qs 13-15).
Extra money for carers in Scotland
- 62% of respondents agreed that Carer's Allowance Supplement should be paid alongside carer's regular payments of Carer Support Payment in future. However, a significant minority supported payment of a lump sum. There were some suggestions that carers should have a choice as to how they would like to receive this payment (Qs 16-18).
- 72% of respondents agreed with the proposed eligibility criteria for Carer's Additional Person Payment. This was felt to recognise the financial burden faced by carers and an acknowledgement of caring responsibilities. However, there was some criticism of the proposed amount of £10, with suggestions that this should be increased and some disagreement with the criteria relating to a minimum of 20 hours additional care per person (Qs 19-20).
- 73% of respondents agreed with the proposed payment frequency for Carer's Additional Person Payment (Qs 21-22).
- 63% of respondents agreed with the proposal to target Carer's Additional Person Payment to carers who are getting payments of Carer Support Payment. This was seen to be fair, sensible, logical and reasonable, though there were some calls for the payment to be made to all carers with an underlying entitlement to Carer Support Payment (Qs 23-25).
Changes to Carer Support Payment
- Almost all respondents (97%) agreed with the proposed future change to allow carers in full-time education to get Carer Support Payment. It was felt this would help to remove barriers and encourage carers to go into education. A number of benefits were highlighted including personal and professional development, career improvement, gaining of qualifications and improved mental health and wellbeing (Qs 26-27).
- A large majority (79%) of respondents agreed with the proposed future change to allow carers to add together hours spent caring for two people to reach the 35 hour caring requirement. Key was the recognition of multiple caring circumstances. A large minority felt that it is the total number of hours spent caring that is important rather than the number of people cared for. There was some concern about bureaucratic and administrative complications (Qs 28-29).
- Almost all respondents (89%) agreed with the proposed future change to continue to pay Carer Support Payment for 12 weeks after the death of a cared for person. This additional time period was perceived to allow people time to adapt to changed circumstances as well as helping to reduce financial and emotional stress (Qs 30-31).
- A similar number of respondents (87%) agreed with the proposed future change to continue to pay Carer Support Payment for 12 weeks when a cared for person goes into hospital or residential care. Respondents noted that carers will still have a caring role to fulfil and may face additional financial costs in terms of fuel, parking and other travel expenses (Qs 32-33).
- 82% of respondents agreed with the proposed future change to increase the earnings limit for Carer Support Payment. A key comment was that carers should be given the opportunity to earn more where possible as this can help to bring about financial stability and alleviate poverty as well as being beneficial to mental health and wellbeing. However, there were comments that the earnings limit should be higher than the proposed £158 per week (Qs 34-35).
- 67% of respondents agreed that the earnings threshold should be set at a level which would allow carers to work 16 hours a week alongside their caring role. While a significant minority approved of this threshold, some others commented that this limit is too low and should be increased (Qs 36-37).
- A majority (77%) of respondents agreed with the proposal to look at a 'run on' after a carer earns over the earnings limit in future. This was seen to be helpful to those with variable earnings as well as making life easier as it would help to provide some stability to carers while they adapt to changes (Qs 38-39).
- A large majority (86%) of respondents agreed that a payment for long term carers should be considered further. This was perceived to help provide financial support and stability to carers. There were also suggestions that this payment should be available to a wider range of carers, including those in receipt of a state pension. (Qs 40-41).
- In considering what a payment should look like and who it should be for, respondents made a wide range of suggestions, although there was little consensus in what this payment should be (Q42).
- When asked to provide other views about the proposals for future changes to Carer Support Payment, most comments echoed points from earlier questions (Q43).
- Fewer than half of the respondents chose to answer any questions on the impact assessments (Qs 44-48).
- In terms of those who share protected characteristics, respondents focused on women, disabled people, those within ethnic minority groups, sexual orientation and age. While views on the proposals were largely positive, it was felt that there is a need to engage with these groups and communicate with them utilising a variety of approaches.
- The key impacts on island communities were felt to be limited services available and the cost of accessing these services.
- Respondents felt that these proposals would help to reduce socio-economic disadvantage.
- It was felt that the proposals would lead to improvements for young carers.
- There could be economic benefits both to businesses and to carer employees.
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